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Dynamic Modeling of Nutrient Use and Individual Requirements of Lactating Sows

Nutrient requirements of sows during lactation are related mainly to their milk yield and feed intake, and vary greatly among individuals. In practice, nutrient requirements are generally determined at the population level based on average performance. The objective of the present modeling approach was to explore the variability in nutrient requirements among sows by combining current knowledge about nutrient use with on-farm data available on sows at farrowing [parity, BW, backfat thickness (BT)] and their individual performance (litter size, litter average daily gain, daily sow feed intake) to estimate nutrient requirements. The approach was tested on a database of 1,450 lactations from 2 farms. The effects of farm (A, B), week of lactation (W1: week 1, W2: week 2, W3+: week 3 and beyond), and parity (P1: 1, P2: 2, P3+: 3 and beyond) on sow performance and their nutrient requirements were evaluated. The mean daily ME requirement was strongly correlated with litter growth (R2 = 0.95; P < 0.001) and varied slightly according to sow BW, which influenced the maintenance cost. The mean daily standardized ileal digestible (SID) lysine requirement was influenced by farm, week of lactation, and parity. Variability in SID lysine requirement per kg feed was related mainly to feed intake (R2 = 0.51; P < 0.001) and, to a smaller extent, litter growth (R2 = 0.27; P < 0.001). It was lowest in W1 (7.0 g/kg), greatest in W2 (7.9 g/kg), and intermediate in W3+ (7.5 g/kg; P < 0.001) because milk production increased faster than feed intake capacity did. It was lower for P3+ (6.7 g/kg) and P2 sows (7.3 g/kg) than P1 sows (8.3 g/kg) due to the greater feed intake of multiparous sows. The SID lysine requirement per kg of feed was met for 80% of sows when supplies were 112 and 120% of the mean population requirement on farm A and B, respectively, indicating higher variability in requirements on farm B. Other amino acid and mineral requirements were influenced in the same way as SID lysine. In [5], we present a modeling approach that allows us to capture individual variability in the performance of sows and litters according to farm, stage of lactation, and parity. It is an initial step in the development of new types of models able to process historical farm data (e.g., for ex post assessment of nutrient requirements) and real-time data (e.g., to control precision feeding).